In an era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), climate change, high poverty levels, and deep inequalities, the challenge remains how to harness the potential of big data and data analytics in order to come up with innovative solutions to various societal problems.
CTIN recently hosted a webinar on building social enterprises in Africa based on digitisation and data analytics. The conversation aimed to explore how digital technologies and new data capabilities might be leveraged by social entrepreneurs and civically-minded young Africans to address pertinent issues and create livelihood opportunities.
Facilitated by Lesley Williams, CEO of Tshimologong Precinct – this conversation was particularly insightful due to the rich and diverse experience of the illustrious panel of speakers which included:
Social entrepreneurship has become one of the most spoken about terms in the social problem-solving space. However, the definition of “social entrepreneurship” remains broad and vague. The discussion kicked off with the panellists emphasizing the highly contextual nature of social enterprises and social entrepreneurship, meaning that they can be interpreted in varying ways depending on the sets of activities they might be undertaking, as well as the principles and goals of the institutions advocating for them. They concluded that social entrepreneurship is a blend of complex social values and commercial business activities in the pursuit of positive and impactful change, with long term sustainability.
“One has to be able to distinguish between a social entrepreneur and social enterprise” – Prof Celik, Wits University
According to Prof. Celik “one has to be able to distinguish between a social entrepreneur and social enterprise.” He argues that organisations trying to create a positive impact for the public can be viewed as social enterprises. However, this requires entrepreneurial ecosystems in which these enterprises are situated to be created as this will influence the success of the ecosystem.
Having resolved on definitions, the issue of big-data was then brought into the conversation with the aim of identifying the opportunities and challenges that arise from the accelerating proliferation of data and the increasing capabilities using that data productively – in this case, to be used in endeavours aimed at fast-tracking positive social change.
It turns out that how big data and data analytics are used and their role in social innovation are also topics of debate. The contemporary big data debates bring to the fore key questions on issues such as access, privacy, safety, the usefulness of data and representation. The recent gains in fields such as financial and digital technology (fintech) require states, civil society and the private sector to deeply question how social enterprises could benefit more through big data and analytics – transforming eligibility assessment to reduce bias or improve targeting, the measurement of social impact, and support for scaling.
“Big Data” captures the idea of managing vast amounts of data using a variety of modern computing technologies and infrastructure from a variety of different sources. (Wits University)
The speakers identified the existing chasm between the potential of data-driven intelligence and its use in addressing social problems. In South Africa, big-data and new digital platforms have been useful in developing innovations that solve societal issues. An example cited as Namola, which enables users to access emergency assistance at the push of a button. Users request help on the Namola app, Namola operators quickly call back to verify the details of the request, and they then dispatch the emergency service providers required. Another app, GovChat, is South Africa’s largest civic engagement platform accessible online, on any mobile handset and feature phones. GovChat leverages administrative data to offer a chatbot interaction via WhatsApp which is used to enable an interaction between the government and citizens. It has been applied to monitor and evaluate provinces’ and municipalities’ service delivery, response times, failures and successes, and corruption, in real-time.
“It is about creating an enabling environment; data alone is not helpful.” – Claudia Juech, Cloudera Foundation
Supporting the great need and potential to use data for positive change, Juech said she sees the promise big-data brings to every sector, including agriculture. She cites an example from Cloudera Foundation’s engagements in Burkina Faso where she has seen an organisation that collects data on behalf of the government. This data is used to diagnose and distinguish diseases and identify treatments.
Talking to the issue of ecosystems and sustainability of social enterprises, Dr Nkomo said: “people should be able to transform their environment by using their knowledge – building sustainability by developing capacity in society, creating jobs and financially sustainable solutions.”
Non-profit organisations were used as an example of how organisations that traditionally focused solely on donations for revenue are increasingly struggling to be sustainable. On the other hand, the social enterprise model is different in that it hybridises; it employs commercial business models while addressing social problems, sometimes also tapping into a diversity of funding streams including from grants. This mitigates the financial hardship of solely depending on donors and government-generated funding.
Furthermore, recent years have seen a growing number of new hybrid options for financing social impact organisations. The distinct dual mission [profit and purpose] of social enterprises requires an exploration of the nuances around the funding and structuring of social enterprises, and how these influence the decisions and strategies of funders. With this said, it has become apparent that social enterprises need to demonstrate that their business models work, regardless of how interesting their value proposition may be; organisations need to demonstrate how they ensure/measure social impact, and how they will sustain their activity.
Bridging the gap between academia and entrepreneurs
The speakers also urged entrepreneurs, governments and universities to urgently leverage the rapid development of technology as an opportunity to combine the theories of collective impact and the tenets of social entrepreneurship to leverage place-based knowledge to build community capacity – where community demands can be better addressed. By creating and supporting a collective approach, social entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurs can tackle social problems such as food insecurity by collectively starting initiatives such as community urban farming projects.
“There is a disconnect… There is a lot of data that is untapped in academia. It is about how we bridge the gap between academia and entrepreneurs to lessen the increase in social problems. It’s not scientists who see these problems – social entrepreneurs are the ones. We need interdisciplinary ways of problem-solving.” – Dr Nkomo, Embedded Ingenuity / Hailer Technologies
While big-data has great potential to inform decision-making in solving some of Africa’s toughest social problems such as human trafficking, issues relating to data collection pose a challenge as the data are largely unstructured and unmanaged. The lack of structured data for addressing social problems is a result of poorly managed administrative systems, lack of data governance, unreliable data, and the fact that data uses can result in unintended consequences.
Nevertheless, there is a proliferation of open data platforms, where citizens are creating new products and ideas to solve their community problems. National data platforms or banks would be key in addressing these challenges, provided these data platforms have the capacity to hold multiple different data types, ensuring that social entrepreneurs and citizens have access to well-curated data sets from the government and corporate sectors. A multi-sector alliance that promotes data sharing on thematic issues is one way of democratically ensuring this.
“There is a need to collaborate with innovation hubs and incubators, provide tax relief to support the ecosystem itself, a need for governments to collaborate with institutions. These efforts must be supported by the government, but free from politics.”Prof. Celik
We hope, if not now, at least in the near future that there will be more solid partnerships between the private sector, government, and social enterprise. These partnerships will enable social enterprises to develop more channels with data companies, building secure relationships, and show that businesses also benefit when they provide consumer data to non-profit and social enterprise actors.
Watch the Session Here
Here is a list of opportunities you can apply for this February
African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative Programme
The African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC) is the accelerant behind hundreds of African female entrepreneurs who have transformed and grown their businesses. It is seeking the next 200 women who are ready to join its cohort for a high-impact applied learning experience.
It’s seeking Women who are:
- Founders of businesses that have been in operation for at least two years in any industry and have at least two employees (either full time or part-time) OR women who have a strong business concept and plan to launch their business within the next year
- Founders of social enterprises are encouraged to apply; founders of NGOs or nonprofit organizations are no longer eligible for the 12-month program
- Citizens of any African country, currently living on the continent or in the diaspora
- Comfortable with remote teamwork and collaboration, especially using digital tools
- Proficient in verbal and written English
- Able to regularly (at least weekly) access the Internet through a computer or tablet
Deadline: 31 January 2021
Civicus: The Youth Action Lab - Strengthening Youth-Led Movements
The Youth Action Lab is a one-year co-creation lab for grassroots youth activists based in the global south which works to support their movements to become more resilient and sustainable in their pursuit of a more equitable world. The Lab is an innovative, safe, active, inclusive, collective, representative and connected space, online and physical for grassroots activists, which thoughtfully considers diverse contexts and ecosystems to better resource them to flourish with their communities.
Participants in the Lab work to build political solidarity and networks, strengthen capacities in engaging with policy processes, and access resources to support their movement. The Lab will act as a hub for testing new ways of working within civil society and mobilizing learnings from across sectors in support of youth-led movements
| Deadline: 01 February 2021
#DATA4COVID19 AFRICA CHALLENGE
From now through February 5, 2021, l’Agence française de développement (AFD), together with Expertise France and The GovLab, is soliciting innovative proposals (re)using data in a collaborative and responsible way to provide actionable intelligence for decision-makers and people to respond to COVID-19 and future pandemic challenges across Africa.
AFD, together with Expertise France and The GovLab, is seeking ideas and proposals that (re)use data to provide actionable insight on COVID-19 along with the following domains:
- Public Health
| Deadline: 05 February 2021
TICTeC Show and Tells 2021 - Call for Proposals
This series of TICTeC Show and Tells provides the opportunity for individuals and organisations to apply to make 7-minute presentations followed by a short Q&A at a TICTeC Show and Tell.
“We encourage presentation proposals to focus on the specific impacts of civic technologies, rather than showcase new tools that are as yet untested.
TICTeC is all about bringing together those interested in civic tech so they can learn from each other, so ultimately better digital tools are developed.”
| Deadline: 14 February 2021 23:59 GMT
The African Civic Engagement Academy (ACEA)
The African Civic Engagement Academy (ACEA) is a free online training program and networking opportunity offered to selected mid-career NGO and public sector leaders across sub-Saharan Africa.
Who is the ACEA Intended For? The Academy is intended for mid-career individuals with demonstrated leadership experience in NGO, non-profit, or public sector roles. Space is limited and applications are competitive.
- Be between the ages of 30 and 45 as of January 1, 2021.
- Serve in a leadership role with a civil society organization (including NGOs and non-profit community organizations) or a government unit responsible for engaging with the public.
- Have a demonstrated record of leading civic engagement efforts, including projects and programs to advocate, engage, and communicate in an inclusive way.
| Deadline: 15 February, 2021 AT 5PM GMT
The U.S. - Africa Tech Challenge
Seeking innovative responses to counter disinformation and propaganda in Africa.
Disinformation and propaganda pose a threat to trust, cohesion, and security. We need the tools to understand, expose, and counter these threats.
The U.S. – Africa Tech Challenge invites technologists from across Africa to submit an application to present their solution against disinformation and propaganda to an audience of government, civil society, and private sector stakeholders. Up to eight organizations will be chosen to demo their technology. Up to three organizations will be selected as winners of the Challenge and will receive funding totalling $250,000 USD.
| Deadline: 28 February, 2021
Propella Future Makers Programme
Future Makers is an intensive programme “from concept to market” process run by Propella for IT innovators.
• You need a great idea and some determination
• An app, a service or an IT application that no-one else has thought of yet or requires help to commercialise and scale
• OR, you need a product or service that will facilitate the commercialisation and growth of a tech business eg social media, bookkeeping, CAD-CAM design, software development etc
• Idea must fit into the operations of a Smart City or Community, such as Industry 4.0, IoT, etc.
• Approximately 100 ventures are selected to attend a two day Stage 1 “Bootcamp”
• No cost to participate
| Deadline: Not Supplied
The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award
The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is launching its first competition designed to highlight and support the work of pioneering young entrepreneurs developing health innovations.
We want to encourage business entrepreneurship and help advance promising health care solutions that support and empower healthcare workers – those on the frontline of delivering healthcare to communities. Therefore, we are looking for innovative healthcare solutions aimed at supporting, protecting, and empowering healthcare workers through solutions like training programmes, providing protective equipment or improving the quality of healthcare.
| Deadline: 31 March 2021
While CTIN encourages its community to apply for these opportunities, CTIN takes no responsibility for these opportunities. Our opportunities are collated from various sources. While we make every attempt to ensure this information is as accurate as possible, we take no responsibility for its authenticity, application processes and/or results. The current information is derived from each initiative’s website.
CTIN hosted four engagements to create a reservoir of case studies on civic tech best practices and lessons for other civic tech initiatives in Africa. The following 12 case studies were collected from various African civic tech initiatives.
Session 1: Illustrating the Use of Open Data
Open data is heralded as a game-changer for transparency and government accountability. Several civic tech organisations in Africa are using open data to allow citizens to hold governments accountable, and thereby drive better service delivery. The session explored how a few organisations in Africa are driving accountability and service delivery using open data technologies.
Two major research insights that emerged from the session:
(I) How to get the government to understand why citizens would want data
(II) How COVID-19 is driving innovation and has been good for the civic tech community
Session Case Studies
- Open Cities Lab: People-centered informed decision making for participatory democracy
- Les Villageois: Young people take ownership of digital technology
- BudgIT: Illustrating the use of open data to drive transparency and accountability in Nigeria
- Open Up: Civic Tech vs Gender inequality
- Mobile Web: Illustrating the use of open data to drive transparency and accountability in Ghana
Session 2: Illustrating Regional Experiences in Implementing Civic Tech
The objective was to look at the common stories that emerged from the group discussion and explored the meaning and significance in the different stories. Listening to the stories of the other discussants, the group may discover possibilities for new perspectives on current challenges. Implications for group collaboration, cross initiatives and across countries were initiated through the discussions.
Session Case Studies
- MobiSAM: Improving Makana Municipality’s communication and responsiveness
- WoeLab: Creating African Smart Cities Through technology startups
- Tanzania Data Lab: Promoting innovation and data literacy
Session 3: Business Models for Funding in Civic Tech
This session explored why many civic tech projects are not able to scale and what emerging business models and earned revenue sources for civic tech practitioners are available.
One major research insight that emerged from the session was that there is potential for scaling and developing business models among African civic tech, but it will be essential to create an “enabling environment” and via:
(i) Creating visibility of their platforms to commercial businesses
(ii) Engaging more citizens via their platforms
(iii) Creating a buy-in and develop trust with governments
(iv) Building the civic tech Infrastructure
Session Case Studies:
- iCampus: Business Models for funding civic tech in Africa
- Gavel: Using technology to accelerate Justice in Nigeria
- iTakeActions/Noble Missions: Improving access to quality education for children
Session 4: Civic Tech in Low Tech Environment: mHealth in Mozambique
In this session, the strategies used and lessons learned from implementing civic tech in a low tech environment (such as 2G) were explored. A representative of a civic tech initiative from Mozambique shared their stories and lessons.
The following themes and observations emerged from this discussion:
- The problem, not the technology, should drive the project
- About 90% of successful civic tech projects is non-tech related
- The political and political economy of civic tech is too often ignored
Session Case study:
This project builds upon initial work based on CTIN’s own outreach and databases, and SACN/CTIN’s COVID-19 civic tech responses survey. The initiative aims to both share and invite case studies. The webinar sessions were modelled around initial experience creatively designed to attract and engage participation. The project was supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
The Civic Tech Innovation CTIN has recently documented 25 African new civic tech case studies through the support of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) foundation in South Africa. These case studies depict a picture of what African citizens and tech innovators have been up to in order to better their livelihoods and democracies.
The African Civic Tech Case Studies is a project aimed at building and creatively disseminating an aggregation of African case studies on civic tech practices and lessons from various contexts with the aim of promoting sustainable urban development by providing a platform for peer learning and collaboration. The case studies were identified based on thematic areas that included: urbanisation and cities, partnerships with government, supporting livelihoods and entrepreneurship, strengthening voice and inclusion, food security, threats to democracy, gender issues and creative industries. The project identified a rich array of initiatives which all offer interesting insight into what the growing civic tech movement is offering and how.
We found that civic tech initiatives are steadily infused as tools to advance and shape governance systems across the continent. These tools range from mobile applications to web data portals responding to various issues such as corruption, food security, and women development to name just a few. A good example is Sema, an SMS chatbot that facilitates feedback about public institutions and public service delivery in Uganda.
Tracka is another great example, demonstrating how citizens are using technology to engage government. Tracka is a platform designed to enable citizens to follow up on government budgets and projects in their respective communities to enhance service delivery by the Nigerian government at all levels.
Voice and Inclusion
While these civic tech innovations responded to a variety of issues, innovations addressing voice and inclusion emerged prominently across the regions. The increasing demand for these citizen feedback platforms can be attributed to the lack of transparent citizen-government engagement in most of the African democracies. An example to this is Yogera, a tool from Uganda used to report service delivery issues with the aim of reaching out to government officials and giving a voice to the citizens. Odekro, a platform from Ghana, is another example that responds to voice and inclusion by informing and empowering Ghanaian citizens on the work of parliament through open data analysis. South Africa also has a similar civic engagement platform called GovChat that enables citizens to engage with their voted government officials.
It is important to note that not all civic tech in Africa is focused on government issues though; entrepreneurial exploits responding to the prominent agricultural sector in the continent were also occupying the civic tech space. Two great examples are Farmerline, an organisation helping West African farmers by connecting them to markets and financial institutions using their mobile app Mergdata, and in East Africa there is m-Omulimisa, an enterprise that leverages technology to improve access to agriculture related services for farmers.
Common Players and Cross-Regional Innovations
Most of the innovations we found were founded for a particular community but have scaled up to serve citizens beyond their country of origin. An example of this is PesaCheck, a fact-checking initiative founded in Kenya to hold public officials and the media honest and accountable; the initiatives have now spread to neighbouring countries Tanzania and Uganda.
While these innovations were founded mostly by individuals with various civic interests, there were also a number of prominent civic tech enterprises involved in several initiatives. One example is Code4Africa a federation of civic technology and data journalism labs who manages tools such as Hurumap, PesaCheck, and Gottovote among many other initiatives. In South Africa, a common role player is the Open Cities Lab (OCL) a non-profit organisation that combines action research, co-design, data science, and technology with civic engagement for inclusive urban development – through collaborations, OCL developed tools for governments and NGOs; tools such as The Durban Edge, eThekwini Municipality’s open data portal as well as CheckIT a community reporting tool for Cape Town’s informal settlements to name just a few.
International collaborations at various levels were also traceable including technical and funding support. Most noticeably is the involvement of MySociety, a UK based organisation providing technology, research, and data for active citizenry. MySociety provided Pambola, a free open source software for running parliamentary monitoring websites such as Mzalendo, Odekro and Yogera. Funding for the initiatives was sourced from various global donors, with noticeable funds granted by the Indigo Trust.
While civic tech has resulted in some successes in Africa, there is still a lack of robust empirical evidence about the impacts or benefits it brings to societies across the continent. As such, there is a lack of reliable knowledge that could guide new initiatives. Collaborative and systematic documentation of civic tech case studies – such as this CTIN study – could form part of the cross-learning process. Such collaborative work could bear benefits to the sector, which could include deepening insight into the civic tech ecosystems, and stakeholder mappings whereby groups can form partnerships, identify and build on shared priorities towards addressing challenges with increased and leveraged resources. Mapping the civic tech ecosystem could help in identifying key stakeholders – funders, programmers, organisations, local/national government, etc. and highlight their connections to each other, to different initiatives, and to funding streams.
Beyond documentation of the African civic tech case studies, stakeholders in the sector can also consider dynamic knowledge-sharing initiatives through formal and informal training programmes, incorporating new information as the landscape evolves.
The studies will be published on the CTIN website.
During this session, the speakers presented stories from their respective countries regarding their transformation journey in the digital age. They spoke about how the journey has been and the lessons they have drawn out of the process. They shared practical actions for governments, civil society, and business could consider in being responsive to some of the policy and governance challenges Africa is experiencing. Discussion around the digital systems such as E-gov and Open Gov that transformed policy and what it means for government, civil society business and other urban stakeholders ensued.
Aidan Eyakuze, the Executive Director of Twaweza East Africa, argued that the best quality governance should be characterised by decisions that are inclusive, execution that is competent, and distribution of costs and rewards that is equitable. Aidan added that new media and social media are at the core of quality governance as new media is transforming governance by shaping truth and disrupting trust.
Paul Plantinga, a specialist in the Impact Centre at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa, discussed his three areas of research: open innovation, open research evidence and open data. He went on to explain how his work uses new digital systems to transform policy in government sectors.
Lerato D. Mataboge, the Deputy Director-General for Trade and Investment in the South African Department of Trade and Industry, highlighted that from a policy implementation standpoint, the COVID-19 pandemic has given them the opportunity to test innovative ways of doing business and reaching their stakeholders. One the country went into lockdown, the department had to start thinking about innovative ways to deliver digital solutions which would help to sustain the economy. Digital solutions helped the department to become much more inclusive and provide information to a wider audience
As we reimagine the future of cities, of human society and how we live and intermingle with one another, technology and the planet — what is the role of the narratives we hold, and how are we using stories and the new narratives within our pursuits? How can we transform ourselves and our society through our narrative(s)? This session presented a unique storytelling session that enabled the participants to reimagine the stories they told themselves and how these can be used to ourselves and our society.
As the future of cities and societies change, what role do our narratives play in the shaping of those spaces? a webinar on reimagining new narratives.
Michael Mutisunge Phoya (Muti), a Malawian artist, author and filmmaker, designs and delivers projects that tell stories challenging the Malawian status quo. He highlighted four key areas that should guide African storytellers as they push towards re-imagining new narratives for their contexts: the ownership of stories, creating meta-data, creating thriving local ecosystems, and ensuring inclusivity and showing up on the global stage.
Coumba Toure, a coordinator for Africans Rising, highlighted the importance of creating and showcasing narratives that promote women in everyday scenarios.
Finally, Anirban Dutta, a filmmaker and photographer pointed out that stories tend to build off each other and before one gets to share a story, it is important to embed oneself in the community.
The role of satirists in undermining propaganda and challenging those in power has never been more important than it is in society today. These were the views of some of Africa’s emerging young satirists speaking at the Reimagining Public Opinion and Satire session of the Urban Festival 2020.
Stephen Horn’s Politically Aweh, is a self-funded, volunteer-run platform made up of a collective of professionals producing videos which sum up key news stories in a satirical report format.
The content is what he calls ‘spicy’ — a combination of satire, humour, and reporting the facts. He said The Politically Aweh YouTube channel boasts more than 10,000 subscribers and is a testament to the growing appetite for satire in South Africa. Horn was inspired by Europe and in particular France, which has a “politically aware satirical viewership” and he aims to be part of this growth in South Africa, taking advantage of the current political climate.
Horn and comedian Tyson Ngubeni, who is a contributor to Politically Aweh, were part of the Jamlab Accelerator Programme, which played an integral role in helping them build and create a strategy for the sustainability of the organisation.
Tanzanian cartoonist Masoud Kipanya fashions himself as a protagonist for truth and a catalyst for change. With over 2-million followers on social media, he is one of the most outspoken satirists in his country, something which has led to him being seen by the ruling government as a tool for the opposition.
“Being a cartoonist is more about how you think than how you draw”
His career began in 1989 when Tanzania was a single-party state and all the country’s broadcasters belonged to the government which meant political commentary simply “glorified the system”. He went on to launch a weekly tabloid featuring only political cartoons, adding that being a cartoonist is more about how you think than how you draw.
He said his cartoons were meant to spark conversations and move people to take charge of their lives by speaking out against injustice. “My cartoons are a reminder to the youth,” he said. “Politics can turn a generation from good to bad.”
Zimbabwe’s Magamba TV uses satire to speak truth to power as well as to laugh at power and the incredulity of what is happening in the country. “It’s comic relief packaged in a way that everyday Zimbabweans can relate to,” said satirist Tafadzwa Tseisi.
Zimbabwe’s youth are disillusioned and Magamba TV is a form of creative activism to expose the truth and a tool to fight state propaganda. Building the platform had not come without challenges, and Tseisi revealed how the organisation had been raided, their equipment seized, and how they had been arrested on baseless charges. But it has been worth the risk, he said.
The organisation is now focused on building a school of satire and wants to focus on becoming the launch pad of prominent female satirists.
Traditional media will have to evolve to remain relevant to today’s audience and news will increasingly need to be packaged in bite-sized forms to suit different communities. These were the key themes that emerged from the Reimagining New Media and Voices webinar at the 2020 Urban Festival.
Al Kags, the founder of the Nairobi-based Open Institute, an organisation that collaborates with governments, civil society and citizen groups to encourage open government and citizen participation, pinpointed six interesting developments in media today.
Today’s reader is faced with a deluge of content and information which leads to people being less prone to consuming long content. This had led to the advent of short video
The journalist is changing into a person who posts first on Instagram and Twitter
Media is more nuanced
Today’s audience is more socially conscious
Traditional media is dying. A reporter is no longer someone who went to media school but is someone with a story to tell
Technology means news comes to you on your phone
“Relevance has changed to become more nuanced to deal with people in my community. News has become bite-sized and needs to be crafted to be bite-sized to suit different audiences,” said Kags.
Tomiwa Aladekomo, CEO of Big Cabal Media, a youth-focused Nigerian digital media company, said the #EndSARS movement against police brutality in Nigeria, had shown how communication was changing not just the tools we use but the way in which we use them. He added that traditional print media in Nigeria had largely towed the government line ignoring the protests, while digital publications “took up the slack” and chronicled the protest.
Mimi Kalinda, CEO of PR firm Africa Communications Media Group, called out African media for failing to adequately cover the protest in Nigeria. Instead, most of the coverage had come from western media. “All of us are media in 2020, we can capture news,” Kalinda said.
This was a double-edged sword she said as it could be helpful yet dangerous.
It was helpful because we live in an era where little can go uncovered. “We can get justice now more than ever and hold people accountable. It also works as a tool for the vulnerable.” The danger, however, was that we were seeing the rise of fake news and the spreading of dissent and bigotry, Kalinda said, pointing to the xenophobic movements we had seen springing up on social media in South Africa. Regulation by the government was another concern, where, in countries like Ethiopia, the government shuts down the internet when they don’t like the news. For Kags, shallow engagement meant we were losing user engagement but “we need to get comfortable with the death of homogeneity”, he said.
Is the media doing enough to inform consumers?
“There’s a power imbalance. Large media organisations tend to be government-funded and smaller organisations tend to be drowned out by larger, better-resourced organisations. Its smaller voices pitching against bigger voices,” said Tomiwa.
He added that consumer habits were changing and were shaped by where we live. While we were consuming more content through social media apps like TikTok, we were also being trained to consume long-form content through streaming services such as Netflix which will drop a whole season of a show, and listening to podcasts and audiobooks as we commute daily.
The panel also discussed the rise of lazy journalism and clickbait. Kalinda said some of the criticism levelled at journalists was unwarranted and that it was the responsibility of media houses to train reporters properly. According to Tomiwa, lazy journalism can’t accomplish what investigative journalism can. “It is critical analyses, stepping back, drilling down and making connections and making people understand the world. The media makes the world smaller. That’s not something social media can do.” He conceded, however, that investigative journalism was expensive because it required time, resources and expertise.
Kags said it was time that Africans started spending their money to invest in their ideas and companies “where we tell our own stories”. This would counter what he said was a big emerging trend of foreign-owned media organisations with local names gaining ground on the continent.
In the fourth and final session, the host focused on whether data is truly being used effectively to solve problems, or merely creating inefficiencies? The session dives into how data can align with and support positive spatial planning solutions and initiatives now and going into the future, the potential of data to tackle key social issues like Gender-Based Violence and how data reveals some the ramifications and implications of Apartheid Spatial Planning, manifested in increased crime rates in certain neighbourhoods.
This session was hosted by Pierre Schoonraad, who is the Head of Research and Development at the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI). He opened the interactive session with the catalytic statement that ‘Data is not just about trying to identify and understand what the problems are but is about guiding us to make better decisions.
Organisations like Open Up is making data more and more accessible
How does Public Service look? At National Level, most people are in law enforcement On the provincial front, most people are in the education and health departments. 50% of departmental budgets are dedicated to administration and the rest dedicated to the mandate.
We need to look into automate admin processes and lock into auditable processes (PDUs, Blockchain) Can the geolocation of crime assist targeted/ intelligence-driven policing? Challenge is that the geo-locations are not the real locations of crime scenes; there is rather an approximation of where the crime happened. What does that mean for intelligence-driven policing? It means law enforcement cannot actually pinpoint the location of the crime.
The data is therefore problematic and therefore defies the purpose of what we want to do with geolocation data When we deal with data we assume that the data will give us the correct information Data capturing and computer programmes render data less useful Data points towards street intersections, public facilities Civic Tech finding the devil Linking communities directly with SAPS (Memeza, Namola) Supporting SAPS to improve data and share with CPFs When we have civic tech innovations we need to ask all the questions When we work from the Civic Tech perspective we need to work from an iterative way. Civic Tech finding the devil: Partnerships Facilitating real-time policing When we deal with data we need to do that within an ethical and human rights framework.
It cannot be outside our Bill of Rights How do you deal with wicked problems? We know what the underlying causes are. In order to deal with this right at the beginning, we have checklists and we try to understand what the risks are. We know what the pathways are We jump into solutions without understanding the underlying issues. We need to look at people as the centre of the solutions that we bring. In providing solutions, start with understanding human behaviour Find insights that can help leverage the system Design for complexity ‘Data is not just about trying to identify and understand what the problems are but is about guiding us to make better decisions.’